Failure to respect the needs of vulnerable groups will seriously undermine response efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Berger, Z.D. et al. Covid-19: control measures must be equitable and inclusive. BMJ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1141
20 March 2020
The risks of COVID-19 disproportionately affect those from vulnerable populations (i.e. those who are homeless, uninsured, unemployed, Indigenous, part of an ethnic minority, etc.). Governments, institutions and healthcare facilities must implement measures cognizant of these vulnerabilities while working to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Members of underserved communities are often mistreated within the healthcare system and accordingly may be mistrustful of this community. Honest and transparent communication is vital to prevent confusing or contradictory health messages, which can further propagate mistrust and lead people to seek information from unreliable alternative resources. Furthermore, COVID-19 testing should be equitable, with sharing of health resources to mitigate risks to public health. Specifically, those with ambiguous legal status should be offered testing so that they have the ability to report COVID-19 symptoms and mitigate further spread. Lastly, despite public health messages encouraging the public to quarantine and self-isolate, those who are not financially stable may be faced with greater pressure to continue attending work for fear of losing their job after taking sick leave. Employers should offer workers paid sick leave as studies have shown that, during influenza outbreaks, paid sick leave policies lower infection rates by up to 40%.
Summary by: Spandana Amarthaluru